The director discusses Pineapple Express, getting naked for Danny McBride and the Suspiria Remake.
After directing movies like All the Real Girls, Undertow and Snow Angels, David Gordon Green certainly isn't the first
choice that comes to mind to direct a stoner action comedy produced by Judd Apatow and starring Seth Rogen, James Franco and
Danny McBride. But the young, talented director is looking to branch out and prove he's just as capable of doing the popcorn
movies as the dramatic indie fare. Although Gordon Green's follow-up to Pineapple Express isn't yet cemented, rumor has it
that he has landed Natalie Portman for his remake of Suspiria, Dario Argento's 1977 horror masterpiece.
ReelzChannel spoke with Green recently about his unlikely career gearshift, his history with Danny McBride and his plans
REELZCHANNEL: Is this the first stoner comedy with a message?
DAVID GORDON GREEN: I think if there's a message, it's watch your a**. If you're gonna get crazy, expect it to get crazy.
We definitely did not try to weave any political message into the movie or moral to the story.
REELZCHANNEL: People were surprised when you were announced as the director. Do you feel you had been typecast as this ultra-
serious, indie director and was that something you were actively trying to climb out of?
DGG: No, I was just exploring that. It was an attitude and a mindset and a technical arena that I felt was realistic and
necessary for where my head was. And then I got to a place where I literally was kind of exhausted and drained and felt like
I'd made four movies that were pure labors of love [where I] worked from the heart and I wanted to make sure that those
batteries could recharge for the next one. And I just love to laugh and have a good time -- action movies, comedies and horror
films, as a movie geek, I just love all types of movies.
So I didn't look to it as any sort of boundaries on me as a filmmaker, but there were certainly expectations I needed to
overcome and show those people that I was capable of doing other things. This was the perfect opportunity to make that
REELZCHANNEL: Hollywood is a town that follows trends. If Pineapple Express succeeds, are you prepared to be inundated with comedy
DGG: If I go to a funeral one day I'd better go to a birthday party the next or I'm just not going to feel very good.
Danny wrote a medieval script that we want to do together. It's a hilarious comedy. Together we wrote a demolition derby
action comedy that would be fun to do. There's a couple of projects definitely in that zone, but I'm also working on an action
movie script and a horror movie script. You know, I don't really have a dramatic project right now and I think that's just my
inclination right now, to get out and exercise. That has nothing to do with an industry perception though, because I feel like
the second you start letting agents and studios guide your creative choices, that's when you start clocking in [and]
delivering to their expectations rather than your own hunger.
REELZCHANNEL: What movies did you look at or show the cast to get in the right spirit of Pineapple Express?
DGG: I looked at a number of things, but I think the most valuable were Blues Brothers; They Live for the fight sequences;
Gravy Train, which is the funniest movie ever made. Stacy Keach and Frederick Forrest, it's a buddy action comedy; and Tango & Cash. I like that one a lot.
REELZCHANNEL: Rogen mentioned your unusual stage directions.
DGG: I have a lot of those, yeah.
REELZCHANNEL: There was "say it like you've got earwax in your mouth," "do it like a drunken sailor on leave."
DGG: How would you interpret "say it like you've got earwax in your mouth."
REELZCHANNEL: That's what I was going to ask you. Maybe like sticky marbles in your mouth?
DGG: Everybody interprets it differently. To me it's just like the worst peanut butter, you know? Everybody's
[interpretation] is kinda different, so I love that direction. Have you ever eaten earwax?
REELZCHANNEL: I can't say that I have.
DGG: It's like the worst thing ever because you can't get it out of your mouth.
I have a handful of directions I like to give because everyone interprets them differently and they're physical and they're
sense-memory. They are not depth-of-character, they're very surface level. You can get a quick, instantaneous response. If I
just need to throw something out while we're rolling film, I don't need to stop and have a discussion. I make it an instant
new reading on it.
"Say the same thing but do it like Oprah Winfrey would do it."
REELZCHANNEL: Do you ever encounter the actors who say "What the heck are you talking about?"
DGG: No, I don't think I would work with those kinds of actors. I literally cast people that love those games and when
we're designing a character, that's when we put the engineering and the architecture together. But when we're rolling, you
know yourself and I want variety.
Every movie I've ever had, the script is a blueprint. Who gives a s***?
REELZCHANNEL: You've known Danny McBride for a long time. Tell me about the history between you two.
DGG: He lived down the hall in the dorms from me. He was a great writer/director student and he was a year below me and
we'd just sort of crack each other up. There was a movie he did, his third year film and I was a senior, and he couldn't find
a man that would do a totally nude scene. He was doing this kind of '80s movie and he needed somebody in a locker room scene
doing pull-ups naked on a shower stall. And I was like, "I don't give a s***, I like to be naked so I'll do it."
I said "You owe me" because I had to basically streak a locker room full of all my buddies and really hot, cute girls from
school. When All the Real Girls came up, an actor had bailed on our movie that had been cast on Undeclared, Judd's show. I
don't have time to go back to LA and recast, so I'm like, "Danny, do you remember that favor you owe me? You've gotta quit
your job, come out to North Carolina and act in this movie for me." So he comes out and knocks it out of the park. Every take
was gold and I said, "I think you might have a change of career plans." We'd written a lot of stuff together [and] we still
In college we wrote a brat pack reunion movie where you got all of the brat pack to come back and they end up in 1985 again
and they're all old and out of shape.
REELZCHANNEL: That sounds cool. You think you might ever come back to that one?
DGG: We talked about it last night. [We were saying] "Wouldn't that be funny if we got to the point where we could drop the
script we wrote in college? Danny said, "We should just take it, drop it off, and whatever they give us we should take a two
week vacation and spend all of that."
REELZCHANNEL: It seems like once you've been initiated into the Judd Apatow family, you just keep coming back. Do you see yourself
working with most of these guys again?
DGG: Sure. In any capacity. It would be fun to just produce or write or act. Well, not act, unless somebody needs another
naked dude. I'll be the naked guy.
REELZCHANNEL: Hitchcock had his cameos, your thing can be the naked guy.
DGG: I'm just naked in other people's movies.
REELZCHANNEL: I love Suspiria. What are your plans for that one?
DGG: Yeah, it's great. I've written that with my sound designer.
REELZCHANNEL: Is Dario Argento involved?
DGG: No, not really.
REELZCHANNEL: What's your take?
DGG: You just have to see it. I'm definitely going for a beautiful horror movie.
REELZCHANNEL: Nobody really does that any more. It's all torture and cheap jolts.
DGG: [I'm going for] the vivid technicolor achievement of The Red Shoes with the intensity and fear and anxiety of The
Silence of the Lambs.
REELZCHANNEL: Would you go with the red paint for blood?
DGG: Yeah! I love it! It's a pretty heightened reality, what we've engineered here. It's not a cartoon, but it's definitely
in the spirit of what Argento was doing.
REELZCHANNEL: Any idea for who the girl would be?
DGG: Yeah, but I can't say yet. It's pretty awesome. We're in good shape. It could be fun.